Financial Conflicts of Interest Prevalent, Under-Reported

Conflicts of interest prevalent; under-reported by members, chairs of panels developing guidelines

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Conflicts of interest (COI) are prevalent among members and chairs of guideline panels, and are under-reported, according to a study published online Oct. 11 in BMJ.

Jennifer Neuman, M.D., from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues investigated the prevalence of financial COI among panelists producing clinical practice guidelines on screening, treatment, or both for hyperlipidemia or diabetes. A total of 14 relevant guidelines published by national organizations in the United States and Canada between 2000 and 2010, together with 288 panel members who participated in the guideline development process were analyzed.

The investigators found that, of the guidelines, five did not have any accompanying declaration of COI by panel members. A total of 48 percent of the panel members reported COI when the guideline was published, while 52 percent of the panelists reported either no COI or not having had an opportunity to declare any. Of the 73 panelists who made a formal declaration of no COI, 11 percent had one or more COI. In twelve of the guideline panels, chairs were identified, six of whom had COI. Of the 150 panel members with COI, 138 were declared and 12 were undeclared. COI were less likely in panel members from government-sponsored guidelines than those sponsored by non-government sources.

"The prevalence and under-reporting of COI are high and transparency is incomplete among a wide range of guideline producing organizations," the authors write.

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